Auburn's defense started off the game causing fits for the visiting George Mason Patriots, and they never let up. The defense was stifling. "We set the tone early," said Broome. "We stayed on them all night."
The same could not be said about the offense. The Tigers shot 34% from the field in the game, and were only 4-25 from three. To add on, Auburn also shot only 62% from the charity strike. Is this a concern for Bruce Pearl's team? Not in the least bit. "We're not going to panic," said Johnson. "I'm not frustrated by it," added Pearl.
If this team wants to have another successful season, they know they will need to depend on their defense. "We're going to rely on our defense." said Johnson. "Defense wins championships." If the Tigers can replicate their success on the defensive end tonight throughout the rest of the season, then they'll certainly have the opportunity to do just that.
The Tigers forced 19 George Mason turnovers, which resulted in 21 points. They also had ten blocks in the game. Leading the charge in blocks this game was Dylan Cardwell. "He's a machine," said Broome. "This is the best Dylan's played," added Pearl. This off-season Cardwell worked to change his body; as he knew his role on the team was bound to increase. Based on his first performance of the year, it seems as if it paid off.
Pearl is proud of Cardwell, and he was proud of his team's defensive performance. "To hold George Mason to 52 points is good," said Pearl. "They run really good stuff."
While Pearl is pleased with the opening night performance, he knows the team still has plenty to improve upon. Pearl reiterated what both KD Johnson and Johni Broome said in regard to the team's poor shooting. "I'm not frustrated," said Pearl. "When we start making shots, we've got the chance to be pretty good."
If Auburn's defense continues to play like it did tonight, and Auburn is able to shoot at a higher percentage than this team will have plenty of success. The team returns to play at Neville Arena Friday night at 7:00 against South Florida. They will look to build on tonight's strong defensive showing and improve their offensive output. One game is down in this young season, and for Auburn players and fans alike there is plenty of reason for optimism.